Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Suck Your Thumb

Persistence pays - except where it does not.  Knowing what to persist on and what not to is the challenge.  Fail Often, Fail Fast, Fail Cheap.  Sometimes it is best to just move on.

My grand daughter is learning to crawl.  I was send the video below of her efforts.

I was going to suggest that she would be faster and more efficient if she did not stop so often to suck her thumb (and of course she always takes my advice).  But is that right?  Likely not.

What is happening is she is getting frustrated (as I think most people would if they pushed their heads across the floor) and needs to take a break and calm herself before trying again.  What she is doing shows genius that we can all learn from.  Know and have things that "pick us up" or "calm us down" so we can go back to persisting.

And on another topic - the weather has been perfect.  Well, it all depends on perspective.

At Danby, I am now in the window and portable air conditioner business.   So hot weather sells air conditioners.  For my gardening it is a bit warm at mid day and some plants suffer from the heat - although my lettuce is still growing well and not yet bitter.

Now, we need some rain - for the dehumidifier sales and to replenish the rain barrels.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Deliver us from Email - Being Efficient with Email

"Forgive us our trespasses.  Deliver us from Email"

This was a funny line in "The Secret of Invincibility: How to Thrive in Any Situation" by Paul Pearsall.

Studies have shown email can reduce IQ to the same extent as smoking pot.  One study says interruptions cause 64 seconds of lost time to get back up to speed on the task you were interrupted in.  Another one says most people take 23 minutes to return to what they were working on!

I believe emails and messaging have made me more ADD.  My ability to focus has been reduced.

Yes email has improved productivity but now it is killing it.   I apologize for what part of that I may have caused with my early involvement with Blackberry (although it most certainly would have happened without me).

Part of my "image" of myself is to be responsive and available.  And to be fast.  Having this persona could be costing me though.  So I am looking at how to improve my email habits.

Some ideas inspired by one of my friends Derek Smith:

1 - Turn off the notification bing or vibration.  This just causes stress and almost forces you to look at it.  This is sort of like having a messy desk that always calls "do me, do me, do me".

2 - Send less and shorter emails.

3 - Include less people on your emails.

4 - If the email chain gets too long it is time to just pick up the phone.  Perhaps more than 4 replies?

5 - The "to" in the email is reserved for the person to take action.  The "cc" is simply "for information".

6 - Use extreme care when sending emails to "all".  The cost can be huge.  Even in a small company like Danby.  About 250 people have email so an email to all costs (time to read)*250.  Lets assume the average time to read a short email is 10 seconds - that is 2,500 seconds or 40 minutes.  The cost is likely over $20.  Add to that the added time if there is an attachment +6 seconds - it takes over 60 minutes lost.  And imagine if there are 3 reply to all.  Cost is well over $100 or even $500 if you consider the "interruption" cost.

7 - Use bullets.  Run on paragraphs hurt readability.

8 - Be professional.  Assume someone else will read it.

9 - Use folders.

10 - I like the 30 second rule.   If I can deal with an email start to finish in 30 seconds, I just do it.

11 - Include your contact information.   It is always faster to pick a cell number from an email than look it up - or worse find out you do not have it.

To compose a good email:

Have a good descriptive subject line - ideally with a verb so people know what it is about and what is expected.

Attach any attachments as you write the email so you are less likely to forget.

Write the email THEN put the To:  This avoids the problem of sending my accident early.


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Stay Interview

I am still learning at a great rate in my new role as Danby CEO.  One of the product lines we sell is air conditioners and dehumidifiers so I now have a different view on hot sticky weather.


I am just back from a previously scheduled one week holiday with kids and grandkids.  All good.

One of the books I was recently asked to review was the Stay Interview - A Managers Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest by Robert Finnegan

People leave managers - not companies.  We can learn from those who leave to ensure less of that happens.

A summary from my Danby HR director:

The concept of the stay interview challenges the current process of employee engagement and retention efforts. Traditionally, managers and HR professionals have relied on employee surveys and exit interviews to gage employee morale, engagement, dissatisfaction and retention. The stay interview is a simple and clear process that is meant to be used as a preventative tool for managers to better understand issues and also allowing managers and the organization to be more proactive when it comes to employee retention. The goal being to avoid having to do exit interviews in the first place!

The stay interview is essentially a one-on-one meeting with the manager and the employee to find out what is keeping them at the company and understanding what would cause them to leave in the future. It is focused on the employee and their wants; which is a very different approach from mass employee surveys. This process will increase employee satisfaction and engagement, identify department and company strengths and weaknesses, and allow the organization to take a proactive and sincere approach to employee engagement and retention. The stay interview can be effective if the process is followed correctly – right questions, probing, developing effective stay plans. Ultimately, in order to complete a successful stay interview, there must be proper thought and preparations put in prior to the meeting, being able to be direct and honest about deliverables, and actually following through with actions to address needs and concerns. Most importantly,  there needs to be trust between the manager and the employee.